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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Official lost part of ear in American Samoa machete attack

Advertiser Staff

A federal worker in American Samoa was hacked on the head with a machete by a man trying to build a home on government property, according to the Honolulu office of the FBI.

Mark Cunningham, station chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "suffered a sizeable laceration on the left side of his neck and partial amputation of the left ear" in the attack, the FBI said, and the man arrested is accused of cutting off part of Cunningham's ear, the FBI.

Simeti Lualemana, 67, was charged with assaulting a U.S. government employee performing official duties, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, the agency said.

Lualemana will be transported here to answer the charge in federal court Friday.

The incident occurred Monday on the island of Tuitila.

Lualemana had previously been told that he could not build a structure on the site and Cunningham was taking photographs of the construction when the attack allegedly occurred.

The victim was struck once with the machete and escaped when Lualemana was allegedly trying to strike him again, according to the FBI.